. .....There’s an old saying to the effect that history is always written by the winner, who writes it to cast themselves in the best possible light. It is the goal of governments and armies, the goal of every civilization, to write history in such a way that their version of the story is the only one. This goal, to re-write reality to better suit one group or another, is a hazardous one. Limiting the discourse to one version of a story leads to imperialism, jingoism, partisan politics, and ultimately to a dangerous ignorance.
........The late 1800's were defined by "the scramble for Africa," a time when every major European country was trying to grab a chunk of the continent. Much of the reasoning for this rush was monetary: it was now becoming evident that Africa had valuable resources. However, the most cited reason for going to Africa"The White Man's Burden." As Marlow puts it, when he describes the job envisioned for him by his aunt, "I was also one of the Workers, with a capital- you know. Something like an emissary of light, something like a lower sort of apostle," (Conrad 76). The religious overtones at work in this passage imply the higher, ethical calling involved in "The White Man's Burden." Marlow is to be a Worker, he is to spread the light of religion and centralized government and civilization as a whole to the ignorant indigenous people, all from his steamboat. This idea of carrying the burden of bringing salvation to savage masses was both a powerful motivation and a powerful alibi. Under the pretext of helping save the natives from themselves by bringing them to God, European nations helped themselves to huge swathes of Africa and exploited the natural resources and people there extensively. Much of this went on right under the public's nose, and with public support, because the intentions were proclaimed to be benevolent. The only story being told was the European one, which involved missionaries flocking to Africa to lead the sheep out of darkness and make the world a better place. As Marlow says, "[My aunt] talked about 'weaning those ignorant millions from their horrid ways,' till, upon my word, she made me quite uncomfortable," (Conrad 76). As a result of this complacency with the one version of events being told, untold millions of Africans were enslaved and killed.
........Which story is told has a strong effect on public sympathy- and the job of any government is to make sure that the only stories being told are ones that fit nicely with their policy. During the 1960’s, for example, America was in the midst of the Cold War with Russia. As the nukes piled up on both sides, the threat of nuclear war became frighteningly realistic, and both the USSR and the US put a lot of effort into completely obscuring the story of the other side. In order for the US to remain in control of the situation, the public at large needed to believe the American "story" of communism. As part of this effort, public safety posters were hung everywhere.
In this example, red is the primary color- the pure red of the American flag being consumed by the red flames of communism. In the foreground, communist invaders are overpowering three American citizens, all three of whom send important messages. America in the 1960’s was facing its own Civil Rights crisis. Black Americans especially might have been tempted by the promises of Communism, as they made up much of the lowest socioeconomic group and stood to gain the most from the ideals of communism. The poster, however, makes it clear that everyone, regardless of color or gender, will face the wrath of the communists. It’s also significant that the poster depicts civilians being harmed by the foreigners. It depicts communists as violent people that will show no mercy and hold no quarter, going so far as to strangle innocent American women to death. The campaign to tell the American version of communism extended far beyond mere posters; even children were not to be spared from adopting this story.

This video, made by the Federal Civil Defense Commission, is another example of the American version of communism. Burt the Turtle is about as American as apple pie. He has an expressive face, a neat bow tie, and a bowler hat- were he not a turtle, he could be any working man on the street. The communist monkey trying to blow him up, however, wears no clothing and is portrayed as stony faced and unflinching. It uses a primitive stick to extend out the dynamite, clearly a technology beyond its understanding, and manages to destroy itself in the process. Burt, on the other hand, comes away unscathed and ready to retaliate. On one level they provide a safety message, but on another, the symbolize the good-natured, working American and the primitive, evil Russians. It also makes a clear message about what would happen if the Soviets tried to launch an attack on the United States: they would be decimated themselves. Children were being exposed to these messages all over, however, not just in school. There are few more compelling examples of propaganda than Marvel Comic's Iron Man. The first Iron Man comics were being printed in 1963, as part of Tales of Suspense. The first comic essentially involved the brilliant, wealthy, and American Tony Stark being kidnapped while in Vietnam by an evil Chinese Communist. Stark then proceeds to defeat his Red enemy by constructing an amazing mechanized suit and blowing his captors to smithereens. As a bonus, he also liberates a Vietnamese village from the clutches of communism. In general terms, Stark represents the prevailing American sentiment towards communism at the time: there was no problem too big, or too red, for the USA to step in and clean up, by virtue of our intelligence and prowess. There was Iron Man, boldly defeating his communist enemies, all of whom were typically portrayed as crazy and eccentric, proving to the entire world that America was unmatched in military power as well as in virtue.
This example, featuring one of Iron Man's nemeses, The Mandarin, is a perfect example. We have the eccentric, old-fashioned communist sitting on a gold throne in what appears to be a medieval castle, rings adorning his fingers. He is wearing outdated, black clothing. In contrast, Stark, in bright color and a mechanical suit, seems like the picture of modernity and progress. These examples of the American version of communism establish communists as insane, cruel, capable of great evil against innocent Americans, and this was the only story being told. As a result, Americans were largely ignorant of the facts about communism and, in a surge of nationalism, they even more firmly hated communists and praised the virtues of capitalism and the United States of America, and the world came dangerously close to becoming a nuclear wasteland.
........Current media continues to lead to partisanship, extremism and ignorance. In the following links, each broadcaster is commenting on Obama's presidency and policies, yet they paint very different portrayals of Obama. For example Glen Beck relentlessly bashes on Obama using harsh terms such as the "antichrist" whereas Olbermann describes Obama as an inspirational figure, and a breath of fresh air from former politicians such as Bush. Each broadcaster is completely slanted to a direction so will paint their picture of the president towards their party affiliation.

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The tea party is a prime example of the ways in which current media and propaganda have produced extremist viewpoints. This picture nicely illustrates this with signs that ignorantly pin President Obama as a Muslim based off of his attributes such as his skin color and his middle name Hussein. Many tea party members, including their leader Mark Williams, have also accused most Muslims of being terrorists. Such accusations are merely racist and misinformed.
Strong political statements are evident in music as well. the government censors certain songs to create "jingoistic jingles" that will alter the publics opinion. For example, over the years one of the most patriotic songs "This Land is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie has been changed by generations to fit the overall political viewpoint at that time period. There are two stanzas in the song that have been continuously retracted then added back. These stanzas have a strong message on capitalism. So, during times of the Red Scare they were taken out. They were most recently included in a performance of the song at Obama's inauguration. (Shown in the following link)
This Land is Your Land

........Every story has many versions, depending on the point of view from which it is told, and while it may not be possible to listen to every version, it is important to recognize as many of them as possible. The Europeans of the 19th century listened only to the story of themselves that portrayed them as heroes and saints, and as a result an entire race of people was subjugated terrible things. The United States could see only their version of communism while the Soviet Union could only see their version of capitalism, and the two pushed the world to the brink of nuclear war. And the current United States is becoming increasingly polarized and partisan as a result of a failure to acknowledge the many sides to a story, and if steps are not taken to rectify this, the results could be serious. When we fail to recognize other stories, we cannot understand the world around us or the people in it, and where we have no empathy, the results will always be dire.

Works Cited
"Civil Defense Duck and Cover." TeacherTube.com. TeacherTube, n.d. Web. 7 Dec 2010. <http://www1.teachertube.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=28958>.
Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer. New York: The New American Publishing Library, 1950. 76. Print.
"Glenn Beck's Obama Derangement Syndrome." Youtube.com. Youtube, n.d. Web. 12 Dec 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNIQG7WXpSM>.
"In the Hands of the Mandarin." Photograph. HMSS.com. Her Majesty's Secret Servant, n.d. Web. 8 Dec 2010. <http://www.hmss.com/otherspies/ironman/>.
"Is This Tomorrow." Photograph. Designer-daily.com. Designer Daily, n.d. Web. 7 Dec 2010. <http://www.designer-daily.com/examples-of-american-cold-war-propaganda-2918>.
"Keith Olbermann Special Comment:Clinton Obama Assassination." Youtube.com. Youtube, n.d. Web. 12 Dec 2010.
Hayworth, Nan. A Tea Party Extremist on the ‘Angry, Vengeful Fringe’. Photograph. GOPRealityCheck.com. New York State Democratic Committee, 2010. Web. 6 Dec 2010. <goprealitycheck.com>.
Sanders, Craig. "The Taming of "This Land is Your Land"." Suite101. Suite101, 22 October 2009. Web. 12 Dec 2010.
Thompson, Doug. "The Tea Party cult: An extremist threat to America." Capital Hill Blue. Capital Hill Blue, May 24 2010 . Web. 7 Dec 2010.